Birmingham UCU and Socialist Students member
The university managements at Wolverhampton, Roehampton and De Montfort have unleashed savage cuts to their education programmes and staff.
Wolverhampton has stopped taking applicants for 138 courses, including its high-ranking fashion course. Roehampton plans to lay off up to 226 academics after cutting many humanities courses, and De Montfort has announced 58 redundancies.
University staff are being made redundant when price rises are making living impossible. Socialist Students condemns these cuts.
They have been approved by managements who see their institutions not as places of learning, but as businesses. Their attention is with massive infrastructure projects and business partnerships, rather than teaching and research. In their blind pursuit of these, they are willing to cut even their best staff and programmes.
These cuts are also a consequence of the unsustainable financial model of universities. The lack of direct government funding encourages management to extort as much from students as possible in tuition fees, leaving them with a lifetime of student debt.
Because national tuition fees are not enough to compensate for lack of funding, they rely heavily on international student fees. A slight reduction of these students, like during the pandemic, can make their whole financial model crumble.
Universities pack as many students as possible into their courses to draw as much income as possible. Therefore, when a programme – no matter how prestigious or well-regarded – fails to attract corporate investment or is considered to not have enough students, it gets mercilessly cut, making the university academically poorer.
As long as universities rely on this model, there will be more cuts, more laying off of staff, and a dramatic worsening in teaching and research quality.
These latest cuts have targeted humanities and arts courses. The reason? University bosses, in their own words, want to focus on “developing programmes with practical skills and industry/employer engagements” – i.e. for meeting the needs of big business.
Education must not become the preserve of a small elite. Socialist Students fights for an education system run for the benefit of students, workers and wider society, not in the interests of the bosses and the super-rich.
This means struggling for a socialist alternative to the chaos of the capitalist system. This requires building a mass movement of students and workers to fight for democratic workers’ control of society’s massive wealth and resources to ensure that everyone can study what they are interested in – not what is meted out to us by the Tories and bosses.
Students need to organise to ensure that what is transpiring at Wolverhampton, Roehampton and De Montfort cannot happen again.
Socialist Students campaigns for:
- Universities to be publicly funded by taking the wealth out of the hands of the super-rich
- Scrapping tuition fees
- Introduction of living grants for students
- Open publication of universities’ financial ledgers
- Democratic control of universities by workers, trade unions and democratically elected student representatives
Work and jobs
Socialist Students also fights for:
- Access to adult education and decent jobs for all
- An end to bogus apprenticeship schemes; instead there should be a guaranteed job at the end
- The possibility of combining training for a trade and formal education